As a CIO I want to initiate M&A planning as soon as possible after learning that a deal is being contemplated. However, producing a detailed plan for IT due diligence and integration is often unrealistic (or impossible) during the early phases of the M&A process. So, under these circumstances what can a proactive CIO do to move forward with the planning process?\nI have found that a helpful first step is to identify the \u201cdeal category\u201d for the expected transaction. Identifying the category is generally straightforward because it is derived from the firm\u2019s overall M&A strategy and is understood by the firm\u2019s senior management. Once I have identified the deal category, I begin visualizing what the future state of the combined business will look like and, from a future state perspective, begin identifying the logical implications for IT. This approach then yields insight that can be used as the basis for creating a high-level due diligence and integration plan.To help you identify your M&A deal category here is a list of the most common ones, along with their labels:\nConglomerate\u2013There are two types of conglomerate transactions: pure and mixed. Pure conglomerate transactions involve firms\u00a0with nothing in common, while mixed conglomerate transactions involve firms that are looking for product or market extensions.\nConsolidation\u2013involves the conversion of one organization to the strategy, structure, processes and systems of the other, with the goal of improving financial strength, increasing negotiating power with customers and suppliers, and boosting capacity utilization.\nHorizontal\u2013allows firms that produce similar goods or services to leverage synergies related to excess capacity by improving operations and reducing costs.\nVertical\u2013enables firms in which both contribute some of the raw materials contained in a final product to improve production processes, increase leverage with suppliers and distributors, and increase control over the supply chain.\nTransformation\u2013replaces both firms\u2019 strategies, structures, processes, and systems with a new operating model that synthesizes the organizational, operational, cultural, and systems components into a new whole.\nCombination\u2013is similar to a Transformation in that it involves the synthesizing of disparate business components into a new whole in which the most effective structures, processes, and systems from each company are selected to form a more efficient operating model for the new entity.\nPreservation\u2013allows individual companies to share leadership, strategy, and financial assets while preserving the autonomy, operational independence, and value of the business units.\nCongeneric or Concentric\u2013allows individual companies to share leadership, strategy, and financial assets while preserving the autonomy, operational independence, and value of the business units.\nRoll-Up\/Bolt-On\u2013is similar to a Vertical, but from a slightly different perspective, because it often involves multiple transactions as the acquiring company pursues its roll-up strategy.\nTuck-In\u2013is similar to a Bolt-On except it involves the transfer of all of the acquired company\u2019s resources into its own department.\nIf you didn\u2019t see a category in the list that describes your particular deal, it\u2019s possible that the deal is a \u201chybrid\u201d composed of business drivers from more than one of the common categories. Deciphering the IT implications of a hybrid deal may be a bit more challenging initially, but focusing on the deal category(s) is a reliable starting point for IT due diligence and integration planning.\nIn my next post I\u2019ll discuss the phases of a typical M&A transaction and the role of IT within each phase.